Introduction to Programming in Java

This page extends on the previous resource to delve deeper into Java itself, relating its use to its history.

1. What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented, cross platform, multi-purpose programming language produced by Sun Microsystems. First released in 1995, it was developed to be a machine independent web technology. It was based on C and C++ syntax to make it easy for programmers from those communities to learn. Since then, it has earned a prominent place in the world of computer programming.

Java has many characteristics that have contributed to its popularity:

    • Platform independence - Many languages are compatible with only one platform. Java was specifically designed so that it would run on any computer, regardless if it was running Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix or any of the other operating systems.
    • Simple and easy to use - Java's creators tried to design it so code could be written efficiently and easily.
    • Multi-functional - Java can produce many applications from command-line programs to applets to Swing windows (basically, sophisticated graphical user interfaces).

Java does have some drawbacks. Since it has automated garbage collection, it can tend to use more memory than other similar languages. There are often implementation differences on different platforms, which have led to Java being described as a "write once, test everywhere" system. Lastly, since it uses an abstract "virtual machine", a generic Java program doesn't have access to the Native API's on a system directly. None of these issues are fatal, but it can mean that Java isn't an appropriate choice for a particular piece of software.

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